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July 12, 2020
Live well club

Choosing a Home Care Agency? Vital Questions to Ask

When it comes to your loved ones, specifically those in need of home care, it is important to choose the right agency. Here are some things to consider when looking for home care, whether it is for yourself, or a parent.

Care worker giving an old lady her dinner in her home.

Research the Provider
The internet holds the key to a lot of important information and can aid you in researching home care providers. A simple Google search will lead you to their website, where you can find out how long they have been operating and the details of the services they offer. Review websites such as Yelp can give you access to non-biased reviews, letting you see both the good and the bad so you can decide for yourself. You can also verify their accreditation on the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency website (aacqa.gov.au/publications/ reports).

As with all things, shop around and assess a mix of national providers and smaller local providers.

Get Assessed
In order to be eligible to receive at-home care, an assessment must be carried out. MyAgedCare. gov.au can arrange this for you. Trained staff will ask you a series of questions and determine your current and future needs. Once this has been approved, you will need to apply for an assessment by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), who will determine the level of care required in your specific circumstance, and whether you will receive Government funding. If you are found eligible in all of these assessments, an informed ACAT staff worker will help connect you to applicable service providers in your area.

Pricing
Something to be aware of is that pricing from different service providers is not standard nor is the definition of a service that is being provided. Providers can sometimes make it complex and difficult to compare, but just ask how many hours of care that they can deliver with the available funding. Of course quality counts for a lot, however, as a rule of thumb, fewer hours will mean less value.

Questions to ask About Staffing
Your home is your palace, and having someone come in and take over can be stress-inducing. For those handing over certain care tasks of their parents, it can also be a guilt-inducing experience. Making sure the visiting caregiver is a right fit will put everyone’s minds at ease. Some questions to ask when approaching a home care agency include:

• Are caregivers screened prior to hiring? Is their past employment background, and other personality factors considered?
• Do caregivers receive good training and ongoing training?
• Are there back-up caregivers if your carer is unable to come to work on a rostered day?
• Is the caregiver manager available 24/7?
• How are caregiver personalities matched with the customer? Whilst all caregivers are probably nice people, it does not mean that every caregiver will be a suitable match for your personality.

Quality Assurance
There’s getting the job done, and there’s getting the job done right. Tasks for home caregivers can include household tasks like cleaning, healthcare tasks like showering, and an assortment of other jobs. If one area is overlooked, it can have unfortunate repercussions. Ask:

• Is there a complaint resolution process if an issue arises?
• Do managers perform surprise quality assurance visits?

At a very practical level, you might ask if the provider will give you direct contact with the person that knows you and can make decisions with you about your care. You don’t want to end up in a series of conversations with call centres.

3rd-Party Opinions
Word of mouth is a powerful form of both positive reviews and negative reviews. When reviewing a home care agency, consider:

• Does the company have a method of assessing client satisfaction?
• Are there online reviews listed on credible sites?
• Is there an avenue for discussion with other customers and their testimonials?

Flexibility
Plans and needs change. Some tasks you may need help with now that you didn’t before, or maybe you had suffered an injury that has healed and you are transitioning to regain your independence. When it comes to your home care agency’s flexibility, ask:

• Are there exit fees if you want to change service provider?
• Does the company have a wide range of services?

Choosing a care provider is an important issue that affects your quality of life or your loved one – make sure you ask all the questions you need to, in order to make the right choice of provider. Remember that the in-home carer you choose could be looking after you for many years and it is important that these years are happy ones for you.

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